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Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010

Determined Date Krumm reaches third round on 40th birthday


Staff writer

Kimiko Date Krumm celebrated her 40th birthday with a place in the third round of the Pan Pacific Open on Tuesday after opponent Daniela Hantuchova retired injured while trailing their match 2-6, 6-0, 4-0.

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Birthday excitement: Kimiko Date Krumm waves to the crowd after advancing to the third round of the Pan Pacific Open by beating the retired Daniela Hantuchova on Tuesday. Date Krumm (below) enjoyed the spotlight during an interview on her 40th birthday. KYODO PHOTO
News photo

Date Krumm rolled back the years to oust former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova on Monday, but the veteran's giant-killing momentum seemed to have evaporated when Hantuchova took the first set a day later at Ariake Colosseum.

Date Krumm then stormed back to win the next 10 straight games in impressive fashion, but the extent of a shoulder injury sustained by her Slovakian opponent early in the second set eventually became clear as Hantuchova conceded the match.

Date Krumm's reward is a meeting with Italian No. 5 seed Francesca Schiavone on Wednesday, and the years do not appear to be taking their toll on the Kyoto native just yet.

"I thought I would feel a lot more tired today considering the tough match I had yesterday, especially as I have now reached my 40s," Date Krumm said. "If I'm tired then it's really difficult to get into the second set because my body gets heavy, but it wasn't like that today.

"I never know how I'm going to feel until I get up in the morning. I'm at an age now where I often wake up before the alarm clock, so I don't know if I get enough sleep. Maybe I got lucky because it was my birthday today."

Instead it was Date Krumm's opponent whose physical condition failed her, with Hantuchova injuring her shoulder while stretching for a shot.

"I couldn't lift it any more," she said. "I kept trying, but I think I should have finished earlier because I just made it worse and worse.

"But even though I had to retire, it doesn't take anything away from the way she played. She's playing great, she's moving very well and obviously the courts suit her here. She was playing very well, not only today but yesterday as well. I'm sure if she keeps going like this she'll do very well."

Date Krumm struggled to match Hantuchova's power and range in the first set, but a change in tactics brought a definite improvement as she broke her opponent's service to start the second.

"I couldn't find my rhythm in the first set, but I really felt the change when I broke her in the second," Date Krumm said. "I started to slow it down and stop her playing to her strengths. I changed a lot of things after the first set, and it really helped me."

Elsewhere, No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki made short work of her second-round opponent, beating Hungarian qualifier Greta Arn 6-1, 6-3. The 20-year-old Wozniacki can take over Serena Williams' world No. 1 ranking with a positive result in Tokyo and again next week in Beijing, but the Dane insists winning matches is the only thing on her mind.

"For me, I'm young and I have a lot of time ahead of me," she said.

No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva also made it safely through against Italy's Sara Errani, struggling only in an epic final game before coming through 6-3, 6-3. Zvonareva has had a breakthrough year with runnerup finishes at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and the Russian has no intention of dwelling on defeat to Kim Clijsters in the Flushing Meadows final earlier this month.

"Kim played a great final so there's no regrets, but I always believe in myself and that I can beat anyone on the other side of the net," Zvonareva said. "It's something that's in the past for me. I'm trying to look forward to what's next."



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